There are a lot of different causes I'm passionate about and I have supported over the years. We've talked about feminism, domestic violence, religion and culture, homelessness, mental health in the community and gender issues. And I've worked with many organizations both in the South Asian community and mainstream. But there is something to be said about having a focus, concentrating your time and efforts on one issue at a time. I've had a lot of people say - "I like what you do and the initiatives that you work on, I'd like to help in some way too".
Starting this year, we are going to do just that - have a REALLIFEwomen #CauseOfTheMonth... starting with Gender Equality.
If you have been following my posts, I have supported an organization called Nach Balliye with their Pink Ladoos campaign and participated in International Day of the Girl Child. This month they are hosting their signature event Lohri For Her and I am honoured to be asked to speak at the event. My topic will be leveraging male supporters to address the issue of gender equality. And I have a lot to say about the topic...
Coming from a family of five girls with only one brother, I saw my dad as the first male supporter of gender equality because he said that I was smart. And he said it over and over again. He said it so much that I believed it and so did everyone that spoke to him. With that sense of confidence instilled at an early age, there was no doubt that I felt like I could accomplish anything and I didn't feel there were any obstacles in my way.
Here's a lovely video and tweet this week which sums it up nicely:
Dad reminding his daughter that she's a queen might be our favorite viral video of the day bit.ly/14jHfhc
What I find exciting is I share this view with the women who tirelessly devote themselves to Nach Balliye and #genderequality / #celebrateher / #womenempowerment / #lohriforher. It was really nice to see when they sent this tweet out:
RT @nachballiye: Our deepest gratitude to @ParmGill and @Ninder_Thind for their support & encouragement of #lohriforher & our cause! http://t.co/zBEEvZIZQo
I don't know Parm very well, but I did see him on Oct 11th distributing pink ladoos and gifts to the girls and boys born at Brampton Civic Hospital on International Day of the Girl Child. Which was fantastic! And that's another thing - Nach Balliye did not leave out the boys. On the special day, they demonstrated gender equality by distributing gifts to both genders and acknowledged the birth of a girl on the auspicious day with Pink Ladoos, bholis and special poems.
I had a lovely moment when we spoke to a woman who had a girl - there were 3 generations of women in the room - baby, mother and grandmother. She said that she had called her husband and told her that the amount of love and celebration she received having her child here in Canada was even more than what they would have done in the village with the family in India. This statement spoke volumes to me about the impact Nach Balliye is having on the community by celebrating girls!
Nach Balliye isn't alone in acknowledging that women can't make change happen alone. We don't live in isolation so if we really want there to be equity there needs to be solidarity and action taken by both men and women. It's not surprising the "He for She" campaign launched by the United Nations in September resonates with many of us. I love their mantra: A Solidarity Movement for Gender Equality.
If we don't stand up together for the rights of all human beings then what can we expect for our children in the future? I have a 5-year-old boy who loves and respects women because both of his parents have taught him do so. My husband has joined the movement and so can any man who is going to stand up for women's rights. It's that simple.
Another campaign: "Slap Her" from Italy which came out this week made me think...
RT @cdnwomenfdn: Here is how boys react to the subject of violence against women -> ow.ly/GTGm6 #EndVAW
Although there have been some critiques regarding the video and it's simplified message; I think we all agree that it starts the dialogue and we have to start somewhere.
RT @PigtailPals: Why "Slap Her" Video by Fanpage.it & Ciaopeople Media Group is Important wp.me/p4GRSs-1va cc@feministfatale @AskDrDae
And to quote from the UN Women National Committee of Canada: "The fight against gender inequality is a battle to end poverty, violence against women and promote women's economic empowerment!" It's a fight worth fighting and definitely worthy of REALLIFEwomen #CauseOfTheMonth.
For me, I have been fortunate to have been surrounded by male supporters all my life. I'm blessed they have all been the most important men in my life: my dad, my brother, my husband and my son. Yes, even my son... I have learned to be the best version of myself and never be less for anyone because I want to be the best example of a strong, independent woman I can be for him.
Who is your #HeForShe? And why? Do you have any ideas how to encourage Gender Equality? How can I support you?
With all my love,